ShareIT: A theoretical and empirical investigation of co-located collaboration for shareable interfaces
Professor Yvonne Rogers, Sheep Dalton and Paul Marshall have been awarded an EPSRC grant jointly with Dr Nicola Yuill in the Psychology Department at Sussex University to investigate the benefits of new shareable technologies. The one million pound grant, starting in October 2007, will last for 3 years and will support an interdisciplinary team working with schools and businesses.
Most of us have experienced a degree of frustration when trying to collaborate with others in a meeting while using a single PC. While it is possible for all to view the information being displayed on the screen it is much more difficult for all to interact with it. Typically, one person is in control of the computer, via a single mouse and keyboard, while the others look on. Technology now provides us with new ways of enabling people to collaborate in small groups. Shareable interfaces are combinations of displays and devices that allow several people in the same place to have their own input (e.g. multiple mice controlling the same display) and to interact at the same time on a shared task (e.g. electronic whiteboards). Input is not restricted to mice or keyboards: users might point, gesture, or use special pens or tokens to interact with a shared display. Many benefits have been claimed about how such technologies can support co-located groups working together but little research conducted to support them. Our research is concerned with empirically investigating the benefits and disadvantages of this new generation of technologies. For example, we will look at whether a tabletop surface with people sitting around it is more democratic than a vertical screen where one person has privileged access to control. Another line of research is to look at how multi-touch surfaces are used by different user groups. For example, we will determine whether multi-user games can help autistic children participate more fully.
The ShareIT project will develop a theoretical framework to explain what design features of shareable interfaces promote collaboration. Guidelines will also be developed for designers, educators and policy makers to help them choose from the new assortment of shareable technologies, based on empirical evidence, rather than hearsay or ‘wow’ factors.
The ShareIT team
Professor Yvonne Rogers, PI (Computing Department, Open University)
Dr Nicola Yuill, PI (Psychology Department, Sussex University)
Dr Paul Marshall (Computing Department, Open University)
Dr Sheep Dalton (Computing Department, Open University)
Dr Jeff Rick (Computing Department, Open University)
Dr Rowanne Fleck (Psychology Department, Sussex University)
Dr Eva Hornecker (Visiting research fellow, Open University)
Will Farr (PhD student, Sussex University)
Richard Morris (Phd student, Open University)